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Your next sunglasses may come from the ocean

The Ocean Cleanup isn't just collecting plastic that's polluting our waters, it's now turning that trash into usable products like sunglasses.

Removing plastic pollution from the environment is a start, but converting it into something useful is an even nobler goal. It hasn't been easy in practice, but The Ocean Cleanup has become an innovator in creating solutions for cleaning our oceans and rivers. Its latest invention combines machines for capturing ocean plastic, a process for breaking down that plastic and a new way of turning trash into treasure. 


The Ocean Cleanup sunglasses with case.

The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup on Saturday hosted a livestream to announce its latest creation: a pair of sunglasses with frames made entirely of plastic pulled out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. CEO Boyan Slat unveiled the stylish sunglasses, which cost $199 and are available on the nonprofit's website. All proceeds from the sale of the sunglasses go back to the company's mission to remove plastic from the natural environment. 

In an interview for CNET's Now What series, Slat said the process sorts and cleans the different types of plastic before shredding it into a product that looks like small green pellets. The pellets then can be molded into different products like frames for sunglasses. "The purchase of one pair of sunglasses will fund the cleanup of up to 20 football fields of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," he said.  

The sunglasses' case is made of recycled plastic collected from the organization's prototype cleanup tool, System 001. Also called Wilson, it consists of a 2,000-foot-long U-shaped floating barrier designed to collect plastics from the ocean's surface. 


Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat shows off the sunglasses.

The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup gained attention with its systems that have proven effective in cleaning up plastics from the ocean. Since then the nonprofit has focused its operations on deploying Interceptors, another of its inventions, that catch garbage floating down rivers. Currently it has three Interceptors in the Dominican Republic and Indonesia. 

Slat had more to say, so watch his full interview above.

Now What is a video interview series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers that covers trends impacting businesses and consumers amid the "new normal." There will always be change in our world, and we'll be here to discuss how to navigate it all.